Tag: urban exploration

Does a completely furnished, midcentury house lie forgotten beneath the soil of a public park in Queens, New York? A handful of optimistic archaeologists aim to find out.

In the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis, American families became increasingly interested in buying fallout shelters in the event of a nuclear catastrophe. Capitalizing on the craze, home builder Jay Swayze designed a modern upscale home that was completely subterranean, perfect for year-round, radiation-free living. The residence, which Swayze called simply the Underground Home, opened to great media fanfare at New York's famed 1964-65 World's Fair.

The three-bedroom, two-bathroom house included not only complete security and a filtered air supply, but also a swimming pool and selectable daytime/nighttime lighting. You could even change the view by choosing from a variety of "outdoor" murals. ... Continued

Short of a shuttered toy factory, an empty zoo is perhaps one of the saddest abandonments one could encounter. But that, of course, hasn't kept away the more dedicated urban explorers.

If you're up for a visit to one yourself, Environmental Graffiti has compiled a number of such disused and aging zoos as captured by a number of intrepid photographers.

Two are outside the U.S., but the rest can be found in California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri and Pennsylvania.

Night photographer Troy Paiva, who has contributed his work to both Weird Texas and Weird Arizona, e-mailed me recently to let me know he's made a major update to his website Lost America.

"I've just launched the largest update to the lostamerica.com website since I first put the work online in 1999," he says. "Literally, hundreds of new images. Even if you follow my daily postings on Flickr and Facebook, there will be well over 100 new images you haven't seen before."

If you aren't familiar with Troy's work, which depicts the forgotten, decaying side of America by the light of the moon, stars and specially adapted strobes, I highly recommend you head over to Lost America now and take a long look around.

Innovative photographer Troy Paiva, whose work I'm proud to say has appeared in both Weird Texas and Weird Arizona, has just announced a fresh redesign of his Web site Lost America: Night Photography of the Abandoned West.

Featuring an updated layout, the site now offers even more of Paiva's captivating images shot among the urban detritus of the American West, some of which have never been displayed before.

To celebrate the grand re-opening, he's also offering a limited-edition folio comprising 10 prints of his amazing and colorful night shots captured at California's Pearsonville Junkyard. Only 25 sets will be made, each signed and assembled in a hand-made slipcase.

Photographer Andrew Qzmn (just you try pronouncing that) braved last year's Russian winter to visit the town of Chukhloma, where he found breathtaking examples of 19th-century, handcrafted, wooden architecture left abandoned among the trees.

Located about 300 miles northeast of Moscow, the houses, known as Terem, are wonderfully ornate, trimmed heavily in detailed latticework much like the Victorian "gingerbread" houses found in the U.S.

Such elaborately carved homes are evidently scattered all across Russia, slowly succumbing to the elements, though some have been incorporated into open-air museums in an attempt at preservation. Sounds like an idea worthy of adoption here in America, where our urban ruins are instead fenced off and left to the weeds.

Despite the scathing reviews on Neatorama, I rather enjoyed photographer Kevin Bauman's project titled 100 Abandoned Houses, in which he shot a hundred forgotten and decrepit houses viewed from the street.

Apparently, the Far East is absolutely littered with amusement parks that just didn't fare so well. Left to the elements, their Ferris wheels, coasters and midways have quickly succumbed to the elements, creating magnificently surreal worlds of their own. Dark Roasted Blend, in a third installment to their series on abandoned amusement parks, takes a look at abandoned parks in South Korea, China, Laos and Japan through the photography of the urban explorers lucky enough to visit them. Be sure not to miss the first two parts, as well, linked below.

Today I've added a new word to my slowly growing Japanese vocabulary. Joining phrases for "one beer, please," "thank you" and "delicious," is haikyo, the word for urban exploration.

I was introduced to this term by the Web site Tokyo Times (via Dinosaurs and Robots), which has recently posted the third part in its series on Nitchitsu, an abandoned mining town three hours west of Tokyo and a site that now sits near the top of my list for urban ruins I most want to visit.

According to Tokyo Times, Nitchitsu housed around 3,000 people at its peak in 1965, but everyone has since moved out, leaving behind an astounding array of personal effects. The former doctor's office is especially intriguing with its piles of surgical intruments and shelves of preserved specimens, including what appears to be an honest-to-god brain in a jar.

One of the most intriguing things about urban exploration, at least for me, is the archaeological aspect — discovering the tangible remnants of recent history. I find it fascinating to see things as they once were, even a few short decades ago.

Unfortunately, by the time most of us uncover an urbex site, dozens of vandals have already been there, grabbing up or destroying anything of cultural value.

A man in Lancashire, England, however, has recently hit the jackpot. Developer Alan Duffy, who purchased a building presumably with plans to renovate it, opened the door to his new property and discovered an outdated corner shop and ice-cream parlor that closed about 40 years ago with products still on the shelves, which have laid untouched ever since.

Such English corner shops were the convenience stores of their time, offering a small selection of cigarettes, sweets, medicines and other sundry items. Among those discovered in Duffy's shop are kidney pills, old chocolates, something called "dulcet cream" and a 1971 issue of Titbits magazine. Lying on a counter was also an old invoice dated to 1927. ... Continued

Fans of Weird Texas, Weird Arizona and many of the other Weird books are probably already familiar with the work of Troy Paiva, photographer and roadside adventurer. As a contributor to the series, Troy has added a unique flavor to many stories with his incomparable night photography.

Shooting by the light of the moon, Troy visits decrepit aircraft, forgotten ghost towns and fading motels throughout the Southwest and creates stunning images with little more than a tripod, a flash and a stack of colored gels, transforming the old and decaying into scenes both unearthly and beautiful.

His site Lost America has for years been a popular stop for photographers and travelers alike, and in 2003 he released his first book, Lost America: The Abandoned Roadside West, hailed as "a seductive journey into the unique world his camera's lenses capture ... replete with evocative remembrances of the eerie and wondrous moments Paiva has shared with the so-called empty desert spaces." I have two copies, myself. ... Continued